Thursday December 08, 2016
August 24th, 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see Donald Trump become the next president of the United States. To that end, Putin and his government have taken unprecedented steps to influence our electoral process to help the Republican Party's nominee. Whether Russia's interventions will succeed is not obvious. But it's clear that Putin's government has the motives - and the means - to try.
Putin has rational motives for wanting Trump to win: Trump champions many foreign policies that Putin supports. Trump's most shocking, pro-Kremlin proposal is to "look into" recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia. President Barack Obama and nearly every member of Congress - Republican and Democrat - have rejected that idea vigorously. Only Afghanistan, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela have recognized Russia's annexation of Crimea. Naturally, Putin would love to see the United States join that list.
Looking for refuge from the gust of insanity blowing across the fruited plain, I went to the highest perch I could reach in North Cascades National Park. I needed a break from the politician who has roused the lowest impulses of the American character.
What better escape from the primordial muck of Donald Trump and company than an alpine aerie of America’s Best Idea? Still, the stench of his recent provocations followed me to the far northwest corner of the contiguous United States. Hints of assassination from those “Second Amendment people.” Claiming that President Barack Obama founded the Islamic State. Sidling up to dictators who kill political opponents.
I could hear the bark of his soulless pessimism. “We are a country that doesn’t win anymore,” he said, time and again. “When was the last time we won?”
The U.S. Federal Reserve appears to be paying more attention to how its policies affect black Americans. This is a wise move, because blacks stand to gain a lot more than others from the Fed's efforts to support economic growth.
The minutes of the Fed's July policy-making meeting noted that officials had discussed unemployment rates and other measures of labor utilization for specific groups, including black Americans. It's a subject worthy of attention: The black unemployment rate has been about 1.9 times the overall rate for more than 40 years. While the unemployment rate isn't always exactly 1.9 times the overall rate, what matters is that the ratio between the two is much more constant than the difference. This means that -- even though the reasons for the long-term unemployment multiple are almost certainly beyond the reach of monetary policy -- the Fed's choices can have a very different effect on black Americans than on the economy as a whole.
Sports fans boo for many reasons. Brazilians, maybe more than most. Jeers, catcalls and heckling have been staples of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and the habit has stirred a storm of comment and consternation.
The barrage from the bleachers has brought a Russian swimmer to tears, unnerved a French pole vaulter and targeted a Vietnamese marksman (booing at a shooting match?). Thomas Bach, the International Olympics Committee president, has made his disapproval public, saying, "This is unacceptable."
That may be so, and the boors from Brazil deserve a dressing down. But now a quartet of U.S. Olympians may have won the competition for most galling behavior.
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, it gets more and more difficult to imagine life without it - or without cat videos. And although our world certainly has been transformed by the web's capabilities, its history includes some persistent myths and comically naive predictions.
Myth No. 1
We know who invented the web and the Internet, and when.
Ask Google who invented the web and the Internet, and it will give you an answer. But the concept of "invention" does not map well to the actual histories of these technologies, which arose from collaborations among large numbers of people and whose development features very few moments that were obvious transformations.
It's rare that a single op-ed piece can encapsulate a political party in crisis. But Richard J. Cross III, a longtime Republican operative, has achieved that feat accidentally.
Cross is the latest member of the GOP to join the ranks of the Never Trump movement. His arguments in a Wednesday piece for the Baltimore Sun are familiar: He doesn't like Donald Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. He thinks his party's nominee does not embody the hopeful conservative ethos of Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. He may just have to vote for Hillary Clinton. You've read all this before.
What makes Cross's op-ed so astounding is that he is the author of a prime-time speech less than a month ago that faulted Clinton for the murders in Benghazi, Libya. The speech was delivered at the Republican National Convention by Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, one of the four Americans who perished there in 2012. The speech included the unforgettable line: "I personally blame Hillary Clinton for the death of my son."
The Question: How should the next president address wealth inequality?
Over the final few months of the election, The Post will be asking policy experts to weigh in on the critical questions our presidential candidates should be addressing - but often aren't. This week, we're discussing tax policy solutions for wealth inequality.
Whether the next president should try to reduce economic inequality is beyond question. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have run on fixing a system they characterize as "rigged" against those on the wrong side of the inequality divide - as did, of course, Bernie Sanders, whose campaign was built on reversing historically high levels of income and wealth inequality.
As the world watches the U.S. presidential election with bewilderment and unease, America's allies in Asia are particularly concerned about the possibility of U.S. disengagement from the region. In Japan and South Korea - America's most important allies in the Asia-Pacific - the rise of Donald Trump, along with inward- looking rhetoric from others across the U.S. political spectrum, has been seen as an indication of a broader shift in public sentiment. Tokyo and Seoul fear that many Americans believe that withdrawal from international alliances and institutions can, to use Trump's formulation, "make America great again."
Isolationism and protectionism took a firm hold on U.S. politics during the primaries. In his foreign policy speeches, Trump declared that "America First" would be the overriding theme of his administration, and the Asia-Pacific doesn't appear to register in his worldview at all. But a U.S. withdrawal or fundamentally reduced U.S. military presence in Asia would not only undermine regional security; it would also ultimately weaken the United States at home and abroad.
More than 2 1/2 years have gone by since the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, went fully into effect. Most of the news about health reform since then has been good, defying the dire predictions of right-wing doomsayers. But this week has brought some genuine bad news: The giant insurer Aetna announced that it would be pulling out of many of the “exchanges,” the special insurance markets the law established.
This doesn’t mean that the reform is about to collapse. But some real problems are cropping up. They’re problems that would be relatively easy to fix in a normal political system, one in which parties can compromise to make government work. But they won’t get resolved if we elect a clueless president (although he’d turn to terrific people, the best people, for advice, believe me. Not.). And they’ll be difficult to resolve even with a knowledgeable, competent president if she faces scorched-earth opposition from a hostile Congress.
This past week marked the 96th anniversary of women winning the vote. Please note that the word was winning, not given. It was a long difficult struggle. In the words of Carrie Chapman Catt, an early suffragist and founder of the League of Women Voters: " It took George Washington 6 years to rectify man's grievances by war, but it took 72 yeas to establish women's rights by law."
Almost a century later we are on the cusp of electing our first woman President. Faced with one of the oddest, nastiest elections in memory--or is it our entire history?--we dare not celebrate yet. Little did those women, and supporting men, think we would be waiting this long for a woman President.